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Eur Spine J. 2011 Apr;20(4):629-34. doi: 10.1007/s00586-010-1594-4. Epub 2010 Oct 21.

Should smoking habit dictate the fusion technique?

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  • 1Spine Center, Schulthess Klinik, Lengghalde 2, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of smoking on the outcome of patients undergoing surgery for degenerative spinal diseases, and to examine whether smoking had a differential impact on outcome, depending on the fusion technique used. The cohort included 120 patients treated with two different fusion techniques (translaminar screw fixation and TLIF). They were categorised with regard to their smoking habits at the time of surgery and completed the Core Outcome Measures Index at baseline and follow-up (FU) (3, 12 and 24 months FU); at FU they also rated the global outcome of surgery. The distribution of smokers was comparable in the two groups. For the TS group, the greater the number of cigarettes smoked, the less the reduction in pain intensity from pre-op to 24 months FU; the relationship was not significant for the TLIF group. The percentage of good global outcomes declined with time in the TS smokers such that by 24 months FU, there was a significant difference between TS smokers and TS-non-smokers. No such difference between smokers and non-smokers was evident in the TLIF group at any FU time. In conclusion, the TS technique was more vulnerable to the effects of smoking than was TLIF: possibly the more extensive stabilisation of the 360° fusion renders the environment less susceptible to the detrimental effects on bony fusion of cigarette smoking.

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